Sorry it's a bit late. Fight scenes take time.

Find the full chapter list for The Man Who Made Monsters and links to related stories here.

Brigid could hear someone big and heavy crashing up the stairs and she turned back to the door, ducking against the wall. Need at least one alive, she thought, and then she let years of training take over. She waited, listened, judged how close he was, drew in a slow breath, then moved.

The man made to burst through the door, but she slammed her elbow into his temple with enough force to knock him into the wall. She kicked him back into the stairwell and he tumbled partway down the stairs.

One problem solved. Hope I didn’t break his neck.

If I did? There’s still more down there.

Jo waited, listening to the man’s retreating footsteps. She waited longer, and then longer still, counting to sixty, and then suddenly she heard shouting from downstairs.

Wes, thank God, Wes. Keep them busy let her be distracted by the noise what is she?

She touched Tim’s shoulder. “Go for the kids,” she whispered.

He nodded tightly, eyes smoldering with anger--and something else, something she couldn’t quite identify.

Not the time to worry about that. Have a job to do.

She left him with Tom and crept around the corner into the hallway.

Moving with near silent animal grace, she prowled down that hallway and toward the woman. By luck or the grace of the Almighty, the woman’s back was turned and Jo could only see a tall, slim figure in a chic white pantsuit and a tight knot of dark hair.

She raced toward that woman, gun drawn. She’d take her down silently if she could but if she couldn’t, she’d just gun her down.

“Two telepaths, a mage, and a Hunter child. The others are acceptable.” The remembered words sent a thrill of righteous anger coursing through her. Children.

Jo had been a child once, not so long ago, and people had wanted to use her, too. Those memories still filled her with screaming rage, though the people who’d wanted to use her had been her own kind and their intentions pure--in their own way.

Then there was Wes’s ruthless bastard of a father and what she knew he’d done, that fucking son of a bitch, and what she only guessed at, and that had been pure, too--but Wes had been a child, just a child, just like she had only been a child.

Just as these children were only children. What did this woman have in store for these them, the two young telepaths, the mage, and the Hunter child?

They’re children, dammit, she thought viciously, and she let anger crowd out her initial sense of fear. She let it spark red and white at the edges of her vision. She was almost there. She would kill that bitch after all. Her finger found the trigger, started to squeeze--

--And then the woman turned around, held out a hand, and it was as though Jo slammed into a wall of steel. She bounced back, landing hard, black swirling darkness crowding out her vision as her head slammed against the floor and the breath was knocked from her lungs.

Wes found the first hole they had looked through, and then he took a running leap and landed with as much force as he could muster, and crashed down in a heap on top of the second meatwall. It wasn’t his finest move, and they landed clumsily, rolling along the dust-covered floor. Meatwall the Second’s gun went spinning away to the left and he threw Wes off, scrambling after it but Wes was after him again, grabbing him by the leg and yanking him back.

Meatwall the Second was bigger than Wes. His shoulders were broad, his arms the arms of a lifelong strength-training enthusiast--overall, a solid oak of a man.

But he wasn’t a Hunter. Wes hauled him back like a dog hauling a rodent from its den. From the corner of his eye, he saw Balding Slick Suit raise a gun, and he pulled Meatwall the Second against him and twisted them both around until he had Meatwall the Second’s solid bulk of muscle between him and the gun.

“Son of a bitch,” Balding Slick Suit snarled.

The skinny guy ran for the exit, but Brigid tore through the stairwell door, charging the would-be escapee and bringing him down hard. The skinny guy screamed as she plowed into him, and then his scream ended in a harsh, audible clack of teeth as he face-planted the floor.

Balding Slick Suit whirled around. Wes shouted, “Brigid!” The warning came at a cost-- that split second distraction gave Meatsuit the Second the opportunity he needed, and drove an elbow into Wes’ stomach and wriggled loose of his grip.

Brigid slammed the skinny guy’s head against the floor and rolled away, coming to her feet with gun drawn, facing Slick Suit squarely.

“You can put your hands up now,” she said calmly, her expression like ice. She wasn’t even breathing hard.

“Fuck you,” he replied.

Jo saw stars of white and blue and black in the darkness that swallowed her vision, and then it cleared a little and she could have sworn she saw a man leaping over her. A second later, Tom was beside her, calling her name.

A flash of light illuminated the hallway. She was sure it couldn’t be from in her ringing head--but if it was, she must have hit her head and damned hard because it wasn’t normal at all to see anything like that.

Tim hit the wall--the real wall--not far from them. He must have hit the invisible wall, too, only he had seen everything and he knew it was there, and he had used it to leverage himself between the strange woman and the young Hunters. He dropped to his knees and then shot back to his feet, his eyes glittering with cold anger and that same strangeness she’d seen before. He didn’t look at them, just snarled Jo’s instructions to him back at them. “Get the kids.”

Tom hauled her up, one arm slung beneath her shoulders, his body protectively between her and the woman.

The woman said calmly, “I am between you all and the door.”

Tim smiled grimly. “Not for long.”

This is where you'll find the next chapter.